Forget Bitcoin: Why Criminals are Using Fortnite to Launder Illicit Funds

With well over 200 million users across the globe, few video games have as large a following as Fortnite. The freemium game is so popular that its developer, Epic Games, banked $3 billion in 2018. However, according to a report on the Independent, Epic Games isn’t the only entity getting rich off Fortnite. V-Bucks, the game’s official in-game currency, are increasingly being used as a tool for money laundering on the dark web.

How Fortnite V-Bucks are Used to Launder Money

According to researchers, hackers are using stolen credit cards to purchase V-Bucks. From there, the purchased V-Bucks are resold at a discount rate to players, as a means of “cleaning up” the currency. Cyber-security firm Sixgill first discovered these activities. The company’s agents reportedly uncovered the operations by pretending to be potential customers and engaging in transactions with some of the criminals.

Benjamin Preminger, a Senior Intelligence Analyst at Sixgill, said:

Criminals are executing carding fraud and getting money in and out of the Fortnite system with relative impunity.

It is unclear how much money the scammers have been able to make from these operations. However, Sixgill also noted that the amount of money flowing around Fortnite had seen exponential increases as the game continues to grow in popularity.

A Practical Scam for the Dark Web

The scam operation makes much sense. Ever since its release, the online battle royale game has been a massive hit, attracting hundreds of millions of players in the process. The majority of these players are kids and teenagers, who are impressionable and can often easily be scammed.

The dark web, the secluded part of the internet that can only be accessed via specialized software, is where a lot of online criminal activities are conducted. While the money laundering being conducted with Fortnite’s V-Bucks can be found on other aspects of the internet (such as social media platforms), these activities are reportedly being carried out on a much larger scale on the dark web.

Are V-Bucks the New Bitcoin?

bitcoin drugs dark web cryptocurrency crypto

While it has found increasing use as a store of value and means of exchange in some quarters, Bitcoin has also drawn ire as an alleged tool for criminal activities. According to crypto research firm CipherTrace, criminals laundered over $2.5 billion worth of Bitcoin use from January 2009 to September 2018.

Epic Games, the developer of Fortnite, intends to stamp out V-Buck laundering before it grows to that scale. Speaking with the Hollywood Reporter, a spokesperson for the company said:

Epic Games takes these issues seriously, as chargebacks and fraud put our players and our business at risk. As always, we encourage players to protect their accounts by turning on two-factor authentication, not re-using passwords and using strong passwords, and not sharing account information with others.

The ‘Milly Rock’ Lawsuit

This new report is only the latest in a growing list of struggles for Fortnite and its producer. In addition to the money laundering claims, Epic Games is also facing a lawsuit from rapper 2 Milly over the developers’ misappropriation of the “Milly Rock” dance. The lawsuit was filed last month. The dance, which was featured back in 2014 in a video for “Milly Rock” (a song, which bears the same name as the dance), was added by Epic Games to Fortnite’s fifth season, albeit under the moniker “Swipe It.”


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Author: JIMMY AKI
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Bitcoin-Stealing Malware Targets Fortnite Gamers

The release of season six for the popular Fortnite video game has inspired the development of bitcoin-stealing malware disguised as game cheating tools.

Malwarebytes Labs has discovered malware disguised as cheat tools that can steal data and bitcoin from Fortnite gamers, according to Christopher Boyd, the lead malware intelligence analyst. Malwarebytes Labs found the malware among YouTube videos offering “free” season passes and offers for “free” Android versions of the game, Boyd noted in a blog post.

Multiple Steps To Getting Scammed

Finding the malware required going through numerous steps, including subscribing to a YouTube channel, getting prompted to a different site, then taking a survey before downloading the malware.

One video was titled, “New Season 6 Fortnite Hack Cheat Free Download September 2018 / WH / Aimbot/ Undetectable.” One was titled, “Fortnite Hack Free Download,” while another was titled “Fortnite Cheat.”

One video racked up 120,892 views before being removed for violating YouTube’s spam policy, noted Boyd, who also observed that disguising malware as a cheat tool is not a new technique, but one that can do a lot of damage.

Also read: Malware discovered sending fake emails to steal bitcoin and passwords

Plenty Of Data Vulnerable

When the initial .exe file runs on the target system, it enumerates details of the infected computer, Boyd noted. It then sends data by means of a POST command to a file in the Russian Federation. A lot of data can be stolen, as the malware examines bitcoin wallets, Steam sessions, cookies, and browser session information. A readme file advertises the ability to purchase additional Fortnite scams for “$80 bitcoin.”

Boyd advised anyone tempted to cheat at Fortnite to steer clear of the numerous offers available.

“Offering up a malicious file under the pretense of a cheat is as old school as it gets, but that’s never stopped cybercriminals before. In this scenario, would-be cheaters suffer a taste of their own medicine via a daisy chain of clickthroughs and (eventually) some malware as a parting gift,” he wrote. “Winning is great, but it’s absolutely not worth risking a huge slice of personal information to get the job done.”


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Author: Lester Coleman
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Fortnite on iOS made $15 million in its first three weeks in the App Store

Epic has made $15 million in mobile in-app purchases in less than a month.

Epic Games’ iOS port of smash hit Fortnite has earned more than $15 million in its first three weeks on the market, says mobile analytics firm Sensor Tower. According to the company’s most recent report, Fortnite on iOS is now out-earning mobile heavyweights like Candy Crush Saga, Clash of Clans, and Pokémon Go on a weekly revenue basis, earning $6.4 million in the last seven days compared to Candy Crush Saga’s $5.8 million. Granted, those games have all been out for years, with Candy Crush Saga now a six-year-old mobile game. But each game on that list has remained at the top of the App Store for years, and they’ve each matured into massive and stable revenue-generators. Fortnite, at least for now, is leading the pack.

Unlike most mobile games, some of which allow you to pay money to advance progress. Fortnite sells only silly costumes, goofy in-game dance animations, and other cosmetic items, as well as a three-month $9.99 subscription service called the Battle Pass. And while these metrics for Fortnite seem eye-popping, they’re not that surprising. The game is a worldwide phenomenon due to a blend of smart timing, Epic’s free-to-play model, and the growing and innate popularity of the battle royale genre.

The genre was popularized by Player unknown’s Battlegrounds, from which Epic borrowed the core concept of 100 players parachuting onto a deserted island, with the last person standing being the victor. But with Fortnite, a free game with a more accessible difficulty curve and more family-friendly and cartoony visuals, the genre really took off.
Fortnite’s mobile version succeeds in part because it is an exact copy of the desktop and console versions of the game, down to letting you keep your progress and cosmetic cache across platforms. That’s why players are comfortable spending money on the mobile version of the game; all the in-game skins, emotes, and other cosmetics carry over to PlayStation, Xbox, and PC. PUBG also exists on iOS and Android in a surprisingly stable state — it is made by Chinese gaming and tech giant Tencent — but progress does not carry over to other platforms.

According to Sensor Tower, when Epic lifted the invite-only hurdle for Fortnite on iOS earlier this week, a mechanism the developer had kept in place since the game’s March 15th launch, the company saw daily mobile revenue triple from around $600,000 to $1.8 million.

Sensor Tower estimates Fortnite has been downloaded 11 million times on mobile alone. According to Superdata Research, another game analytics company, Epic made about $126 million through Fortnite in-app purchases in the month of February. Mobile sales will surely boost that figure in the coming months.


 

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Author  Nick Statt

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